We need to talk.
As an international festival with a strong political orientation and educational mission, we are aware of our responsibility not only to "proclaim" values, but also to live them and take a clear position. The festival should be an open and safe space for encounters in which respectful behaviour is a fundamental principle. This should be reflected not least in our programmes. For many years, we have been offering discussion formats during the festival and touring Saxony with our short film programmes, seeking exchange and trying to comply with our educational responsibility.
We have thought long and carefully about how and if we should and can comment on current geopolitical events. It is with great concern that we are observing the renewed surge in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Dresden and Germany. We are unequivocally standing against all forms of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia. We condemn all forms of violence and terror as well as the killing and oppression of civilians and populations.
However, we also observe with great concern an increasingly aggravated culture of discussion in which it seems impossible to engage in objective and balanced discourse. Discourse, however, in our belief, is the basis of democratic action. We too are in a continuous learning process, make mistakes, question our decisions and actions, have to readjust our position on a continual basis and seek advice. In our eyes, this is an important part of any democratic process.
"Freedom is always the freedom of dissenters," Rosa Luxemburg once wrote in prison and, according to philosopher Bini Adamczak, "means exactly that: that no government in the world, no political movement can stand up and claim to have a ready-made concept in its pocket that it can now decree from above. Rather, the development of a community that is not organised by rule must always happen together with everyone - and that also means with those who have a different opinion."
We therefore need to talk. About how we as a community can stand up for our values and freedom as the highest human value. We need to recognise and endure ambivalence without losing sight of our own moral compass. We cannot discuss "safe spaces" and not provide them. As cultural workers, we cannot proclaim discourse and then refuse it when the situation becomes complex. We have to listen, understand other positions but also clearly advocate our own. This definitely starts in our local communities. So let's create safer spaces together, learn from each other and, above all, listen to and give space to those whose homelands and freedom are under threat or do not (or no longer) exist.